NGD....the first in YEARS.

Oldskoolrob

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I used to buy guitars often, and I've had quite a few over the years. These days I have 3 guitars I use ('94 LP standard, '94 Gretsch 6120 and a Korean epi LPC of unknown year). Over the last couple of years I have used my LP pretty-much to the exclusion of all others (except when I need a bigsby). Due to some financial hurdles instigated by my ex-wife and eldest child my family is going to have to go into a kind of financial hibernation for a few years. So what does my darling wife suggest? "Well, you haven't bought a new guitar for a few years, and you wont be able to for a few years, so you'd better buy one now!" (love that woman). Now, luckily I always keep an eye on the local market for just such an occasion - but there was nothing within spec and budget. These days I'm really only looking at LP's, and considering anything I buy would have to be very Gibson-like so it can be a usable back-up for my #1, but be different enough to be useful on it's own and cost less than my LP would in today's market. So I cast the net further than I normally do and found an '03 Tokai LS135Q. I'm not normally one for flashy tops, but she called to me. A dive into the Tokai rabbit-hole, followed by a very well answered request for help on here (thanks guys!) messages between seller and I, and we struck a deal in principal. Luckily we're both the type of guitarist who has to play a guitar before you buy it - and he did a very stand-up thing of holding it for me until I could get away for the 450km-odd one-way trip to view it. He also knocked a nice amount off the price as I was travelling so far, which I'm grateful for (during negotiations I asked his bottom line on the basis that if all else was cool I wouldn't attempt to bargain any more off the price when I saw it in person, it would be a straight yes/no). So I had originally planned on doing a looong day to go look and probably return home with said axe, but my Queen was fearful of fatigue whilst riding my valiant steed on such a quest - so we turned it into a family holiday driving down, spending a day in Coffs Harbour (NSW) and then driving back.

So yes, I am now the proud owner of my first Tokai. I couldn't wait to get it home and A/B it against my LP standard. I had a very quick play at the sellers house to make sure it all 'worked' and then took it back to the hotel room. The Tokai is as acoustically loud as the LP but 'twangier' (they're using different strings at the moment though), the neck is a C but wider at the nut which took a little getting used to but I now quite like it, and this thing has been set-up by a proper magician. It's the fastest, slinkiest, bendiest easiest playing guitar I've ever owned. I was very glad to get home and be able to try it against my LP and through my rig.

I have my LP set-up as vintage as I can afford with 50's wiring and Seth Lovers. It really does the clean-to-overdrive-via-volume-control very nicely the way I have it dialled in (I played a whole gig with one amp setting and only the bridge pickup she's that responsive). My rig is a Tech21 Liverpool Deluxe through a DD7 into a powered wedge (I have other pedals too that I wont bore you with). I know it's not a 'proper' amp, but for the consistency between venues I'm more than happy to trade the small difference in tone to the real AC30 I had back-in-the-day, and the Tech21 is 3 metric tonne lighter. On the regular setting my LP will be clean and a decent volume between 3-6, kinda punk at 6-7 and from 8-10 is classic rock. At 11 it's a great ride (yes, my knobs go to 11!).

WOW, this Tokai is a beast. I guess I best describe it (as I did to my lovely inquiring Queen) where my LP is a vintage spec guitar, there is a small overlap and this one picks up in the 'heavier' register and goes from there. A more 'modern' LP if you will. The pickups are clear and articulate, the neck miiiiight be a little boomy but I'm not finished dialling it in yet. I don't know how hot they are but they drive the Liverpool much harder and than the Seths and have a lovely percussive attack that's pure RNFNR. On my usual setting I found it a little hard to get a pure clean sound from the Tokai but got down into a late-night loud charlie Christian jump-blues vibe, and on a clean setting on the amp (I never have it set really clean) it's quite acceptable for 90% of what we play (remembering this is supposed to be a back-up guitar). When you let her off the chain on my hottest current amp setting we're getting into serious chug-a-lug metal territory with access to some really nice pinch harmonics. It'll be interesting to see what I get if I dime the amp but I had to put her back in the case and assist the Queen with preparing our repast and wrangling the young prince.

I'm not normally one for flashy tops as I said, but this quilt under the deep blood red finish is very sensual and alluring. I'm glad for the chrome hardware as it lets the red sing without being gaudy. The finish is obvious poly but I'm not against it - I think I might rub the neck down with some 600 grit to give it a satin feel (I usually do this on my other guitars every couple of months). So I'd been lusting after this guitar while waiting to get to it and I really really like it. My Queen asked to what name do I give my new consort? Well, that took some thinking and a few days diving into mythology (which was quite interesting) I have now not only derived a name for the new electric lady but also my #1! My Gibson is still the #1 and is henceforth named Lilith.

My new consort is a Succubus.

Yes, pics will follow - I'm at work and hoping to take some nice ones tonight.
 
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Oldskoolrob

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Yeah there's not alot here either - but there are more and more new Chinese ones coming in. This one is a 'proper' Japanese model (ok not top-of-the-line but still MIJ!).
 

Oldskoolrob

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After playing her a bit and inspecting the wiring I've ordered some Bare Knuckle audio taper 500K pots - The factory ones are too linear for my taste, and I'll put those orange-drops in - just so it's operation is closer to my LP. I was really tempted to buy some PIO's but I can't justify the cost.

Also just waiting 'til Monday to see if my Tech does engraved truss rods ;)
 
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Grenville

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Rob, sucks to hear about the financial/ex stuff, but I'm so pleased this guitar quest has had such a happy ending for you.

When I first got my 1980 Tokai LS80 a few years ago it took a little while to dial in, I wanted that range you've described, clean to roar with just volume and pickup adjustments. Two things made a big difference. I bought Faber steel tailpiece studs to replace the stock zinc/zamac ones, and they tightened up the neck pickup boom quite a bit. Not all the way, though. Because I have aftermarket pickups (Brierleys) I was able to rewire the neck pickup so the coils were in-parallel instead of the usual in-series. Slightly less output, a LOT more clarity and still humbucking. Perfect.

Enjoy that lovely guitar!
 

Oldskoolrob

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Thanks :) I think the first post is the most I've written in a long time lol.

Update: She's been officially named Naamah. :dude:
 
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